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Obama: Romney's Bain record is not a 'distraction' -- it's key to the election

Newark mayor Cory Booker may find attacks on Bain Capital "nauseating," (though he now says it's fair game), but President Obama is making clear that he still sees the issue as a centerpiece of his campaign.

"This issue is not a quote 'distraction,'" Obama said Monday at a press conference in Chicago, where he had traveled for the NATO summit. "This is part of the debate that we're going to be having in this election campaign, about how do we create an economy, where everybody from top to bottom -- folks on Wall Street and folks on Main Street -- have a shot at success."

"Mr. Romney is responsible for the proposals he's putting forward for how he says he's going to fix the economy," Obama continued. "And if the main basis for him suggesting he can do a better job is his track record as the head of a private equity firm, then both the upsides and the downsides are worth examining."

And Obama added: "When you're president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off."

Why criticizing Bain's record of laying off workers should be off the table is hard to fathom. As Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, put it on The Ed Show Monday: "Why should Romney be able to escape responsibilty when he talks about, judge me on my business record -- and it stinks?"

Schultz agreed. "If Mitt Romney wants to be president of the United States, his record in the private industry is not only fair game, it is the only game," he said. "This is what we have to talk about."